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June 11th, 2007

Counterfeiting Countermeasures

He sees a lot of potential in nanotechnology, including nanocrystals that can be used to make pigments that aren't easy to duplicate and have spectral properties that can be easily verified by machine. "Unlike regular organic pigment molecules," he explains, nanocrystal pigments "have very narrow absorption windows." Nanocrystals made of semiconductor materials such as cadmium telluride and zinc sulfide or of metals such as gold and silver are already available. Color can be tuned by changing the size of the particles.

The committee also thinks lithography on a minute scale shows promise as a deterrent, Trevor says. Techniques including dip-pen lithography—in which the stylus of an atomic force microscope is used as a pen—could be used to print currency with text, images, or other patterns with dimensions in the nanometer to micrometer range. Such features could be viewed with a scanning optical microscope.


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